Mexico: President insists on construction freeze for brewery

During a visit to Mexicali on Friday, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador asserted again that Constellation Brands will not be allowed to finish its already by 70% completed brewery in the Mexican city on the border to the United States. The president instructed the Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, María Luisa Albores, who was also present at the event, to definitively deny the environmental permits for constructing the brewery.

The comment came in the context of reports in several newspapers that the US-based company had resumed construction since August.

“As we know, there was a disagreement since the previous government gave the permits for the operation of this brewery, and we committed to carry out a citizen consultation so that the people would resolve as befits an authentic, true democracy,” President López Obrador said, who had been elected in 2018 for the duration of six years.

“That consultation was carried out, and the people expressed their feelings about not wanting that brewery to be built in Mexicali because of the lack of water. That’s why the decision was made that this plant’s permit to operate would not be granted. And that’s the commitment. I express this here with all clarity so that there is no disinformation. We keep our word. We are not the same as the conservative hypocrites of double talk, of double standards. Consistency is fundamental for us,” he said.

Farmers in the region fought for years against the planned 10 million hl brewery arguing that it would use too much water in an area where water in general is a rare commodity. Especially the fact that the project is financed with MXN 500 million (USD 26 million) by the government, while urgently needed funds for local irrigation projects have not been granted for years, was a major point of concern. (, 27.3.2017)

In March 2020, the more than one million inhabitants of Mexicali were allowed to vote on the project and 76.1 percent of the participants rejected it. Despite the fact that the vote was not binding as only 36,780 people in total participated in the survey, President López Obrador stopped the project. "One must respect the decision of the people," he said. At that time Constellation Brands had already invested USD 900 million. (, 24.3.2020)

In September and again earlier this month, the president told reporters that he favors a new location of the brewery in the south of the country where there is an abundance of water. Critics say that the president is only in favor of this location because he was born and raised up in Mexico’s south-eastern state of Tabasco. However, this is not an ideal option for Constellation Brands as the beer of the new brewery is destined for export to the United States and Tabasco is more than 3,000 km away from the northern border whereas Mexicali is a border town to the United States. (, 19.9.2020)

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